Alberta Energy Consumption at Record Levels

Friday, November 29, 2013

Energy MeterDue to it getting darker earlier and the temperatures rapidly declining, energy use usually goes up considerably in the fall and winter months in Canada. And already, the demand for power has reached record highs in Alberta.

According to the Alberta Electric System Operator, electricity usage hit an all-time record on Nov. 21 of nearly 10,700 megawatts at the peak operating hour, which is 6:00 p.m. It was the second time in less than a week that a new high in energy consumption was recorded for the province.

"Winter is typically the time of year when we see the highest demand on Alberta's power system," said Mike Law, vice president of operations for the AESO. "A prolonged cold front, reduced daylight hours and overall growing demand are all factors that combine to create the record electricity consumption levels we are presently experiencing."

However, he added that what strays from the norm is this amount of electricity use so early on in the cold weather season - especially considering that many people have yet to set up all their lights for holiday displays both indoors and outdoor.

With this in mind, the AESO offered some basic tips to Alberta residents for how they can limit their energy use.

  • Avoid using appliances during peak times. As a general rule, families will fire up the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer in the dinner hour, which is between 4 and 6 p.m. As such, it's best to run major appliances anytime after that, preferably no earlier than 7 p.m.

  • Turn off non-essential lights, appliances. It's easy to forget that the lights are on, but high electricity bills can serve as an unpleasant reminder. Upon leaving any room, turn it off. Additionally, only turn it on if it's really necessary.

  • Purchase a programmable thermostat. The ideal room temperature is between 20 and 22 degree Celsius. But when everyone is in bed, at work or at school, there's no point in keeping the temperature this high. You may want to consider buying a programmable thermostat, which automatically lowers the home's temperature after a certain hour. It also raises the temperature when everyone is up and around.

According to AESO figures, before the most recent all-time records for energy usage in Alberta, the last one occurred on Jan 16, 2012. Just over 10,600 megawatts were produced for Alberta homeowners at the time.

Besides lowering utility costs, producing less of a carbon footprint and putting less of a strain on the province's power grid, using less energy can also help homeowners save on Alberta home insurance. There are various ways in which home insurance premiums are calculated, one of which is how electricity is used, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The flow of electricity that comes into a residence is considered, as well as its composition, such as whether breakers or fuses are installed. Here are some other ways in which to conserve energy:

  • Dry clothes manually. If you heat the house with electricity rather than a wood stove or coal stove, why not take advantage of the warmth by allowing wet clothes to dry over it. By forming a clothesline over radiators or in a well-lit room, dryers don't have to be used, an appliance that takes up a lot of a home's electrical demand.

  • Look for 'Energy Star' appliances. Washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators are some of the chief appliances that get used regularly. However, there are numerous models that have 'Energy Star' insignia, which are proven to be more cost-efficient than standard models.

  • Take advantage of extra space. Dishwashers and washing machines are meant to be used to their full capacity. Instead of doing several small washes, do one big one whenever clean clothes or dishes are needed.